Turkey women share harassment stories after grim murder

Women dress in black, take to streets and post stories of harassment online after murder of student.

Thousands of women have rallied across the country over the weekend protesting the killing of Ozgecan [Getty]

Turkish women and activists have taken to the streets in nationwide protests, and started a wildly-successful Twitter campaign, after the murder of a 20-year-old student in an alleged attempted rape. 

Thousands of women rallied across the country over the weekend, while many people participated in a campaign supported by local celebrities encouraging Turkish people to dress in black on Monday.

A separate online campaign has gone viral when women in Turkey took to Twitter to share their personal experiences of harassment and abuse using the  #sendeanlat ( #tellyourstory ) hashtag.


The family of Ozgecan Aslan, a student at Cag University in the southern province of Mersin, contacted police after she went missing on Wednesday. Her body was later found in a river in Mersin on Friday, reportedly with stab wounds and signs of burning.

According to local media reports, which quoted leaked testimonies of suspects, a 26-year-old minibus driver allegedly tried to rape Aslan, who was the last passenger in the vehicle he was driving. He allegedly stabbed and clubbed her to death after she resisted the attack. 


Testimonies, widely reported in the Turkish media, alleged that the suspect asked for help from his father and a friend to get rid of her body.

They allegedly cut off her hands to “remove the DNA samples”, burned the body and threw it into the river.

In the days since the attack, senior Turkish officials have condemnded the attack and floated various ideas for clamping down on violence against women, from  introducing castration  to  reintroducing the death penalt y , which was abolished in 2004.

“Violence against women is the bleeding wound of our country,” President Recep Tayyip Erodgan said in a speech he made in the capital Ankara on Monday.

The hashtag  #ozgecanaslan has been the most popular worldwide trending topic on Twitter with more than 2.5 million tweets  as of 9:00 GMT on Monday, leading the list on Saturday and again on Monday .

OPINION: Will #OzgecanAslan change Turkey?

The  #sendeanlat hashtag was the third most popular worldwide trending topic on Sunday. Over 440.000 tweets were posted under the hashtag as of the same hour on Monday.

The first viral tweet sharing a personal experience  was posted by Beren Saat, a Turkish actress.

Fake wedding rings

Women across Turkey used the hashtags to share experiences of public harassment, as well as incidents within the family, from adolescence through to adulthood.

Many said their lives were restricted by harassment and that they had to take precautions to avoid it, such as dressing more conservatively and carrying pepper spray.


Translation: When a man stares at me on the the street, I act as if I’m on the phone and about the meet someone, saying, “I’m almost there.”  — At the age of just five, I was harassed by the neighbours’ 18-year-old son and did not go out for days.

Some said they have had to alter their routes on the street and get off public transportation to avoid harassment. Others said they have had to seek refuge in cafes and shops to avoid stalkers. 

Tweets said some women talk to imaginary men to create the impression there is a male in the apartment when there are delivery men at the door. There were also tweets from women who said they wear fake wedding rings in some social environments, particularly work, to avoid harassment.

According to data compiled by liberal media organisation bianet.org, which was based on reports in Turkish newspapers and news agencies, in 2014: at least 281 women were killed by men, there were 109 rapes or attempted rapes against women and girls, 560 women were injured in attacks by men and 140 women and girls were sexually harrassed.

The Turkey-based Human Rights Association put the number of women killed by men in 2014 at 257, the number raped or sexually harassed at 282 and the number subjected to violence at 575.

It is common in Turkey for such crimes to go unreported due to the reluctance of women to file complaints.

Source: Al Jazeera